As most students know, as the spring arrives and the sun shines brighter, the less of it you actually see. Every year at this time, just as the weather gets nicer and you can practically taste the summer warmth, school decides to throw its students one last curveball called exams. It's the inevitable hurdle that each student has to successfully clear before getting to enjoy the summer. Despite the added stress, we don't get an added month off to study for exams, and so it's important to spend what little time that you do have efficiently. Hopefully, the following tricks along with my note taking tips should help you do just that.

1. Location, location, location

 Pick somewhere comfortable, that won't distract you (or make you fall asleep) like the library. Make it somewhere easily accessible where you have enough space to spread out all of your study equipment, and where you will be able to use the following steps.

2. Make a playlist

 I love making playlists for anything I do. I have one for working out, walking to school, boosting my mood and several for studying or schoolwork. When doing my homework I generally listen to either classical music (Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Bach), or the scores to some of my favourite movies (How to Train Your Dragon, Pride and Prejudice, any Disney movie, etc.) so as to not be distracted by the lyrics in most songs. This is a tactic that works for many others as well, and can be easily adapted based on your study methods. Just remember not put the volume on full blast (it defeats the purpose).

3. Break it down

 If the idea of studying for one hour makes you sick, try studying for 30 minutes at a time and taking breaks in between. Set an alarm to your desired time frame, take a break and then get back to work.

4. Treat yourself

 Another way to motivate yourself to work hard is to promise yourself a little treat. The longer the study period, the bigger the prize. For every 25 minutes of studying, you get a 5-minute break to make yourself a snack or check your phone. Or how about for every hour of reviewing, you get a longer break of 30 minutes to watch a missed episode? Only you know what motivates you to get work done. Figure it out, and get it done.

5. Make it a group activity

 Whether it’s when you need advice or just to have a fun time, friends are always useful when you are in need. Turning solo studying into group studying, is bound to motivate you to study longer, harder and more efficiently. As soon as you begin to slack off, your friend will be there to make sure you focus, or to remind you to take a break.

6. Shake it up

  There comes a time during the studying process when no amount of determination or motivation can help you to focus on the task at hand. This is your body’s way of telling you to take a break. Do not fight it. Do not try to uselessly binge read information in hopes of it sticking in your mind – it just won’t. Close your books and your computer, get up and move around. Go for a walk, or a jog, just get the blood flowing and allow yourself to relax. The change of scenery will help to get you in the zone, and make the rest of your studying much more bearable.

7. Sleep

 Just get enough sleep. Last year, I was the queen of all-nighters. I would stay up until 4am studying and doing work, only to be completely unable to focus throughout the day. I was young and foolish, and now I am young and a lot wiser. Trust me when I say that whatever you do, make sure you get a goodnight’s sleep.

~ Alexandra

For study tips and tricks visit examtime.com or academictips.org, or the Google Chrome webstore for useful browser extensions. 

How do you stay focused?